Chief Executive Newsletter Updates

The Farmers Club Newsletter – No. 45 – July 2022

An extremely busy June ended with our visit to the Devon County Show at Westpoint, Exeter. Even though we were not blessed with good weather, the heavy rain did not dampen the enthusiasm of the members we met and who attended the reception, along with many of the young farmers, whose marquee we used for the occasion. A surprise appearance and talk from Secretary of State, George Eustice sparked lively debate and he managed to stay with us for some time afterwards – a really good afternoon against all the prevailing conditions!!

A very busy July started with Sub Committees, followed by the General Committee meetings. Refinements to communications were discussed, a new seasonal menu and the admittance of over 60 new members were among some of the issues discussed and decided upon. These were followed by the Club’s 180th Annual General Meeting held in the Farmers Suite. Chairman, Vice Chairman and Honorary Treasurer were elected for 2023 with Mr Meurig Raymond CBE, Mr Richard Maunder and Mr Chris Riddle formally elected to those posts respectively. There were also a couple of rule changes, the most important of which was the extension of the junior section of the Club to encompass 31-35 year olds following a 6 month trial. This section will be now be known as the U35s and the rules have been amended accordingly.
The day after the AGM, pageantry took centre stage here in London and Craig hosted an early supper for 34 members before they embarked on a short walk to Horseguards parade for the Beating Retreat ceremony.  An excellent evening and glorious weather made it an unforgettable event.

The day after, I took 44 members to the Hampton Court Flower Show. This started with an early ‘brunch’ at the Club before clambering aboard our coach for the trip to South West London. Whilst the skies were cloudy to start with, as soon as we alighted from the coach, the day turned to total sunshine with some very high temperatures. We took a short ferry trip from Hampton station across the Thames to the Palace before enjoying this superb show set in the most magnificent gardens and overall venue. Members took afternoon tea in the Rose Pavilion (much needed with the mercury rising fast) before returning to the show prior to leaving for dinner at the Club. The dinner (a prelude to the new menu this week) was stunning with the beef dish in particular singled out for special praise. Another superb day with many friendships started and others renewed – what the Club is all about really.

I have been asked by the Captain of the Farmers Club Golf Club to appeal to other golfing members who may be interested in joining the FC Golf Club and participating in the competitions that are in its fixture list. Some of these competitions require a larger number of team members to make them both enjoyable and viable, particularly those competitions such as The John Alliston Tankard Competition in which we enjoy a mixed meeting between The Farmers Club and The Worshipful Company of Farmers. Anyone interested in becoming involved can contact me direct and I will pass on the necessary details to our Golf Club officials. Many thanks in advance.
Farewell to Anita Kaur
It is with great regret that I have to announce the immediate departure of our Events Administrator, Anita Kaur. Anita had been with us since 2017 and will be known to many members who experienced the hundreds of tours/events she organised over that time. Unfortunately Anita has had to make the decision to resign from the post owing to very urgent family / personal reasons. 
I am sure I spoke for all when I passed on the best regards of all at the Club and wished her and her family all the best for the future.
Committee Nominations
I wanted to give members a reminder that there are a number of places on the Club’s General Committee which are up for re-election at the end of the year. I am very happy to speak to any member who is interested in supporting the work of the committee in maintaining the high standards, service and opportunities that the Club strives to obtain for members, and the level of commitment that is required from committee members.
Burgundy Trip – September 2022
After much deliberation and a reduction in numbers of those now wishing to attend this trip, I have regrettably made the decision to cancel this club trip. It is clear, that the uncertainty over flights departing from and returning to the UK has, understandably, played a significant part in members’ confidence in the trip going ahead due to factors out with our control. We are now at the stage where I need to begin to expend monies for the trip and we do not have the numbers to make the trip financially viable. I am extremely sorry to make this announcement, as many people have been very patient since we first mooted this trip in 2020, but the economics just don’t work with the numbers and uncertainty at present. All those who were booked onto the trip are being contacted and monies paid will be refunded at the earliest opportunity.
Old War Office
The external façade restoration/alterations around the building are now complete and only those areas were temporary works are present, remain to be done. Installation of new Portland stone almost completed, and again, only those areas were temporary works are present remain to be done. Reinstatement of the Horse Guard arches started last month and installation of the roof finishes continues throughout the building. The internal fit out of the new 120 bedrooms in the hotel is proceeding to plan, with final snagging continuing at level 3, 4 & 5, with 85 rooms being snagged. Fit out of the 85 residential apartments is proceeding to plan with final snagging continuing on apartments at level 1, 2 & 3.
Work continues on the installation of the passenger and goods lifts including the car lifts, and road works due to be complete in late June/early July, will be delayed by about 3 weeks. Work is proceeding to fit out the hotel Spa and Front of House areas for the Hotel and residences.

July has got off to a cracking start and we are making small inroads into our manpower shortages across the departments, but the challenge is still severe. As many of you will know, we are still looking for a new HR Manager, but so too are 49 other clubs/hotels in London! This is but one example of the paucity of skilled manpower in the sector and pool in which we are fishing – it will be the same for many of you around the country as well.
We are lining up some excellent trips during the late summer and into the Autumn, details of which we will be communicating soon through the Journal, e-newsletter and social media. Whilst all this is going on, my Heads of Department will begin to assemble their budgets for next year and so frame and shape what we can and want to achieve next year.  It is going to be a challenging process!
Occupancy figures are remaining very good and the Restaurant increasingly busy, therefore, I would ask that you make sure you book ahead for both, as far ahead as possible to avoid disappointment.

Best regards

Andrei Spence